The Storming That Never Happened

pussy riotThe headline on boston.com today is: “”Pussy Riot Storms Cambridge Police Department Headquarters After Supporter Arrested”

It was also covered in the other Globe site. It was the second item that came up on the first page of its on-line edition. I write about it to show how the media invents the news by making a non-news event into something.

A guy named Roman Torgovitsky, 38, was arrested for trespassing by the Harvard police. He had been barred from the Harvard campus for having disrupted a concert. He was brought to the Cambridge police station, was booked and released a little over an hour later when he posted $40 bail.

The Globe article told us: “Members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot and their supporters massed at the Cambridge police station after a Harvard speaking engagement Monday night in an attempt to free an arrested protester.” Wow, it must have been quite a gathering.

Later in the article we read “Pussy Riot members were among a crowd of 10 to 15 people who came to the station.”  Yes, probably no more than ten people.

How can it be that such few is called a “crowd” or even worse suggesting that they “massed” at any place or to say they “stormed”the station. From all we can tell the two Pussy Riot members, their crew and one or two others probably were the only people there. But you’d never know it from the Globe or from the two Pussy Riot members who like to tweet about themselves.

Included in the piece was a tweet at 10:49 pm from Pussy Riot showing a six people with the notation:

“Now our crew and a big team of Harvard students is at the Cambridge PD HQ till Roman Torgovitsky gets released!”

They then tweet at 12:03 am:

We’ve just managed to free Roman Torgovitskiy – police released him, woohoo!”  

From what I could tell there was a little coverage that Pussy Riot was in town but nothing locally. That is probably as it should be. The young women members of the group protested in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral against Putin but did so in a way disrespectful of the church and Orthodox religion. They were sentenced to prison and released before the Sochi Olympics. They are now travelling around telling us Putin’s evil but the Russian people are good.

I have no trouble with them doing that. I do however feel that by blowing out of proportion their actions outside the lecture hall demeans them as well as makes me question their credibility. There was no “big team” of students; nor did they “manage to free” Torgovitsky. Whether they appeared at the Cambridge police station or not the same result would have come about. These are young women unfamiliar with our values looking for a little publicity. It’s sad they seem to know so little about our society. When they return to Russia they will be able to tell of their heroics in saving their friend from the grasp of the police. 

On the other hand, we should expect our news media to report accurately about events that happen. Throughout the matters involving Whitey Bulger we’ve seen that as far as the Globe was concerned that was not the case. We understood the lingering animosity of the Globe toward the Bulgers that made that so.

But here, when nothing really happened out of the ordinary, for the Globe to magnify it into something other than what is was is a disservice to the public. Unfortunately, that seems to be the new trend with the newspaper. Perhaps the truth is to be sacrificed for the sensational.

Just thought I’d point this out. It is a reminder to all of us to read beyond the headlines and to understand what really happened and not what the news media wants us to think what happened.

 

6 thoughts on “The Storming That Never Happened

  1. Does anyone but me remember when Harvard students protested the city’s closing of The Old Howard strip and vaudeville theatre in Scollay Square? Mid 1950s. Healthy interests anyway. The Old Howard was so tame compared to the theatres just twenty years later.

    1. Henry:

      The Harvard students ventured in Scollay Square for entertainment so they would have been well advised to complain about the dismantiling of the Old Howard and Casino. I remember a couple of bar rooms we’d go into that had buys who played the piano and sang bawdy songs which to we all joined in and which I still sing today, after a few beers and in certain company, such as “I Used To Work in Chicago” and “Any Ice Today Lady?”
      Looking back it was quite tame compared to what came down the Pike.

  2. Down here at the Green Mountain Coffee machine at Flying Pond Variety
    we are reminded of the words of Boston FBI SAC James Greenleaf
    ” it is best to be looked over,than overlooked”.
    Down in the whisper stream word is another FBI plausible denial miracle moment was observed, eh?
    Thousands Of FBI Documents About Civil Rights Era Destroyed By Flooding

    http://io9.com/thousands-of-fbi-documents-about-civil-rights-era-destr-1635448055
    Thousands Of FBI Documents About Civil Rights Era Destroyed By Flooding

    This month marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of COINTELPRO, a major FBI operation to “expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize” hate organizations, including the Ku Klux Klan. It’s just been revealed that many crucial questions about that period will remain forever unanswered, due to archival neglect.

    Writing at the blog of the National Security Archive, Trevor Griffey— a lecturer in U.S. history and labor studies at the University of Washington—says that he learned about the loss of the documents when the FBI responded to a FOIA request. Hundreds of thousands of pages were destroyed last year during a hurricane, when the FBI archives in Alexandria, Virginia were flooded.

    Among the losses: somewhere between one-fifth and one-third of the FBI’s 62,000-page Birmingham, Alabama field office file on the United Klans of America, as well as documents on a Klan chapter created by the FBI to produce a rivalry with an authentic Klan group.

    Griffey says those documents could have answered some significant historical questions:

    To what degree were FBI agents and undercover informants in the Klan complicit in hate speech and hate crimes in the 1960s? What effect did FBI repression of the Klan during the 1960s have on the history of the right and on American politics more generally? These and other questions related to the history of the FBI’s COINTELPRO against the Klan deserve further investigation.

    And, Griffey adds, thousands of other historically significant files were destroyed:

    Forty-one volumes (likely over 8,000 pages) from the FBI’s main headquarters file on the National Negro Labor Council— one of the most important civil rights organizations of the early 1950s, which was driven out of existence by anti-communist pressure.
    Twenty-four volumes (almost 5,000 pages) from the FBI’s Chicago field office file on Claude Lightfoot, a prominent black communist for almost 60 years.
    Nineteen volumes (almost 4,000 pages) from the FBI’s Memphis field office file on the Nation of Islam.
    Eight volumes (roughly 1,500 pages) from the FBI’s massive Detroit field office general file on civil rights issues from the 1940s through the mid-1960s.

    Griffey wonders whether news of this flooding will expose other weaknesses in the FBI’s records management practices:

    A more important question, however, is: why are these archives in the possession of the FBI at all? Why does the FBI continue to retain millions of pages of historically significant files, many of which are over 50 years old, that have no relevance to its contemporary law enforcement mission? Why have these files not already been transferred to the National Archives?

    Many of the historically significant files destroyed in the Virginia flooding included a series of files that were supposed to have been transferred to the National Archives during George W. Bush’s second term….Almost ten years later, these files should not still be in the FBI’s possession.

    Other files of major significance to the study of racial justice, the left, and U.S. foreign policy— particularly the FBI’s 105 series files, which include hundreds of thousands of pages of files on the Black Panther Party— remain in the FBI’s possession and decades away from ever being declassified or transferred to the National Archives.

    These and other historically significant files that sit in secret FBI warehouses are vulnerable to more than just flooding. Decades-old standards for determining historical significance that tend to treat local history as unimportant, combined with wide latitude granted to FBI records management staff, have resulted in tragic and reckless destruction of many historically significant files

    1. MS:

      The FBI has many files that it never plans to open up to the public. Helen Gandy took the most juicy ones out of the headquarters and destroyed them. Can’t say that differs from any other federal agency, isn’t the IRS now busily hiding some of its stuff. We cannot expect a totally pure society or government, only one that is relatively open and mostly on the level. Perfection is not something we humans can come close to achieving.

  3. Hyperbolic yes … Pussy Riot are pretty seasoned Revos though … getting warmed over 2.0 Cossacks to bullwhip you while you are staging a protest of and at the Sochi Olympics takes some really Big …. Olympic Rings 🙂 …. Harvard students are well .. Harvard students … and if a couple of Pussy Riot Russian Raskolnikov Rad chicks show up at the Cambridge Police Station with their visibility exponentially increased by the live social media they so adroitly cavort around in, then believe me they can cause a storm if not an actual ” storming. ” You know the Cambridge Crew would love to don their riot gear to quell any and all such Pussy Riot riots, so it seems it was just another Cantabridgian night in Central Square and environs. Cambridge has a real sense of humor. God knows they have to in that cultural menagerie.

    1. John:

      Can’t disagree with what you wrote. I was thinking reading about the Pussy Riot incident that those young ladies are capable of something more dramatic than the show up at the Cambridge police station. Although I do feel sorry for the young women since they plan to go back to Putin’s Russia. I can’t see them storming any police stations there.

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